On this day 36 years ago, thousands of people, organized by the NICRA ( Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association ) marched through the streets of Derry in an attempt to end Internment, Gerrymandering, and for a One man, One Vote platform. It was a peaceful protest of the government's ( Stormont) total disregard for the civil rights of 1/3 of Northern Ireland's populace. During this peaceful march 14 innocent people were murdered by the British security forces, who went on a rampage, firing indiscriminately into the crowd.
What amazes me about this event, is the lack of knowledge people here in America have about it. Not one person with whom I've spoken in the past month even knew where Derry is, let alone that a very active and strong Civil Rights movement took place in the late 60's-early 70's in Northern Ireland. When I asked them what they thought about the U2 song " Sunday, Bloody Sunday." they all said they liked it, but to be sure they didn't know what it was about. So, I thought I would put some of the information out there for people to see and perhaps take an interest in the Nation that so many claim as their homeland.
At around 3:00 pm that Sunday the march began in a light hearted mood. The march's planned route had taken it to the Guildhall, but because of army barricades it was redirected to Free Derry Corner. A small group of teenagers broke off from the main march and persisted in pushing the barricade and marching on the Guildhall. They attacked the British Army Barricade with stones and shouted insults at the troops. At this point, a water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse the rioters. Such confrontations between soldiers and youths were common, though observers reported that the rioting was not intense. Two people were shot and wounded by soldiers on William Street.
At a certain point, reports of an IRA sniper operating in the area were allegedly given to the Army command centre. The order to fire live rounds was given, and one young man was shot and killed when he ran down Chamberlain Street away from the advancing troops. This first fatality, Jackie Duddy, was among a crowd who were running away. He was running alongside a priest, Father Edward Daly, when he was shot in the back. Continuing violence by and against British troops escalated, and eventually the order was given to mobilise the troops in an arrest operation, chasing the tail of the main group of marchers to the edge of the field by Free Derry Corner.
Despite a cease-fire order from the army HQ, over a hundred rounds were fired directly into the fleeing crowds by troops under the command of Major Ted Loden. Twelve more were killed , many of them as they attempted to aid the fallen. Fourteen others were wounded, twelve by shots from the soldiers and two knocked down by armoured personnel carriers ( Saracens).
The list of the victims is as follows:
John (Jackie) Duddy (17). Shot in the chest in the car park of Rossville flats. Four witnesses stated Duddy was unarmed and running away from the paratroopers when he was killed. Three of them saw a soldier take deliberate aim at the youth as he ran. Uncle of Irish boxer John Duddy
Patrick Joseph Doherty (31). Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety in the forecourt of Rossville flats. Doherty was the subject of a series of photographs, taken before and after he died by French journalist Gilles Peress. Despite testimony from "Soldier F" that he had fired at a man holding and firing a pistol, Widgery acknowledged that the photographs showed Doherty was unarmed, and that forensic tests on his hands for gunshot residue proved negative.
Bernard McGuigan (41). Shot in the back of the head when he went to help Patrick Doherty. He had been waving a white handkerchief at the soldiers to indicate his peaceful intentions.
Hugh Pious Gilmour (17). Shot in the chest as he ran from the paratroopers on Rossville Street. Widgery acknowledged that a photograph taken seconds after Gilmour was hit corroborated witness reports that he was unarmed, and that tests for gunshot residue were negative.
Kevin McElhinney (17). Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety at the front entrance of the Rossville Flats. Two witnesses stated McElhinney was unarmed.
Michael G. Kelly (17). Shot in the stomach while standing near the rubble barricade in front of Rossville Flats. Widgery accepted that Kelly was unarmed.
John Pius Young (17). Shot in the head while standing at the rubble barricade. Two witnesses stated Young was unarmed.
William Noel Nash (19). Shot in the chest near the barricade. Witnesses stated Nash was unarmed and going to the aid of another when killed.
Michael M. McDaid (20). Shot in the face at the barricade as he was walking away from the paratroopers. The trajectory of the bullet indicated he could have been killed by soldiers positioned on the Derry Walls.
James Joseph Wray (22). Wounded then shot again at close range while lying on the ground. Witnesses who were not called to the Widgery Tribunal stated that Wray was calling out to say that he could not move his legs before he was shot the second time.
Gerald Donaghy (17). Shot in the stomach while attempting to run to safety between Glenfada Park and Abbey Park. Donaghy was brought to a nearby house by bystanders where he was examined by a doctor. His pockets were turned out in an effort to identify him. A later police photograph of Donaghy's corpse showed nail bombs in his pockets. Neither those who searched his pockets in the house nor the British army medical officer (Soldier 138) who pronounced his death shortly afterwards say they saw any bombs. Donaghy had been a member of Fianna Éireann, an IRA-linked Republican youth movement. Paddy Ward, who gave evidence at the Saville Inquiry, claimed that he had given two nail bombs to Donaghy several hours before he was shot dead.
Gerald (James) McKinney (34). Shot just after Gerald Donaghy. Witnesses stated that McKinney had been running behind Donaghy, and he stopped and held up his arms, shouting "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!", when he saw Donaghy fall. He was then shot in the chest.
William A. McKinney (27). Shot from behind as he attempted to aid Gerald McKinney (no relation). He had left cover to try to help the older man.
John Johnson (59). Shot on William Street 15 minutes before the rest of the shooting started. Johnson died of his wounds 4½ months later, the only one not to die immediately or soon after being shot.